When I was deciding on the title for my post “Ramen: A Story of Independence,” I was debating whether to use the word “freedom” or the word “independence.”
Ultimately, I chose “independence” because it has deeper connotations than “freedom.”
We all want to be free. But freedom is amorphous. Some of us aren’t ready for it. Some of us fear it. Because freedom means having no boundaries, no limitations. In essence, no structure.
A life without structure is a life without aim. It is empty. This is something I learned the hard way.
During my 20s, I had freedom, but I had no structure. It was a dark time because I lacked direction. I have always been a high achiever, and I was imploding because I had not zeroed in on a purpose. It was a terrible waste of talent.
I may have been free, but I was not independent.
Freedom does away with structure. Independence, on the other hand, demands it. Independence banks on having a personal code that you live by, a philosophy that embodies your worldview and guides your daily life.
Independence can tolerate the “weight” of life. Being independent means we are sufficiently grounded in ourselves to recognize problems as they arise and to set appropriate boundaries. Independence prompts us to ask ourselves: Is this problem mine? Or: Should I take on this challenge? If yes, how will I approach it?
Independence uses freedom as a strategy: It allows that we are free to choose the “load” we will carry and how we will carry it.
To use freedom well, we have to have good judgement based on independent thinking. And independence will evolve as your thinking evolves. You may decide to completely change your worldview one day, and that’s fine. It’s up to you. Consistency is overrated if what you believe and how you behave does not serve you well.
You are always free to choose. Hopefully, you have the independence to choose wisely.